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Dandy Designs title

The title of this article is Self-Destructive Defense.

Bowerbirds are a family of over 20 species of birds found in Australia and New Guinea. Their name comes from the fact that the males prepare bowers to attract females. The bowers are not for a dwelling but just for display. To these birds, the bowers are attractive works of art. Bowerbirds are perhaps the only creatures, other than humans, that create things that are beautiful beyond their function.

Satin bowerbird at his bower

Satin bowerbirds are the most familiar to humans because they are not afraid to build their bowers next to human habitations. The male starts by removing leaves from bushes and branches that would shade his building site. Then he clears a one-meter area of debris before bringing in his own decorative debris consisting of twigs and sticks. He tramples those items into the ground to build a platform for his bower. Then he gathers hundreds of twigs about a foot long and places them vertically in two rows with a space in the middle where he will stand. The largest opening usually faces the direction of the sunlight, which in Australia is north.

Female satin bowerbird

Next, the bird may use grasses to line the display floor. Then, he may paint the walls with crushed berries using a piece of bark for a paintbrush. Then he decorates the sunny northern side of the bower with any blue object he can find. It may be flowers, parrot feathers, or even blue plastic spoons. If a female comes by, the male will try to impress her by doing a song and dance routine inside his bower. If she is not impressed, she will just fly away.

A spotted bowerbird will use a wide range of decorations in his bower, including berries, nuts, leaves, pods, eggshells, insects, mushrooms, green slime, reptile skin, snail shells, spider egg cases, stones, bones, and various colors of glass and plastic. They seem to like snail shells and use them in their dance routines, during which they toss them high into the air. Unfortunately, their dance is so boisterous that they sometimes frighten the females.

Great bowerbird building his bower

Golden bowerbirds build the largest bowers with two towers that can be ten feet tall around two small trees linked together with a fallen branch. They decorate the connecting bridge with hanging lichens and flowers. Vogelkop bowerbirds build a bower that resembles a tepee around a pole surrounded by flowers, seeds, and feathers. McGregor's bowerbird creates an elaborate structure resembling a Christmas tree decorated with spider silk and hanging ornaments made of mushrooms, butterfly wings, moss, and lichens. He begins by plucking the leaves off a sapling about 4 feet tall. He then clears all detritus from a circular area around the tree and covers the clearing with a layer of moss.

Regent bowerbird

Bower bird males spend weeks or months building their bowers in one location where they may be vulnerable to predators because of attracting attention to themselves. They are not following the principle of survival of the fittest. Instead, we see bowerbirds as dandy designers and another example of God's dandy designs in his living creatures.

Picture credits:
© KHBlack Image from big stock.com.
© ozflash. Image from big stock.com.